Showing posts with label netgalley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label netgalley. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang & All The Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Publication Date: May 4th, 2018
Harper Voyager
544 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

The Poppy War
"When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good. 

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school. 

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . . 

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late."

I just heard about this one the other week and I am so interested in this premise! The advanced reviews for it are incredibly promising as well, so I have hopes and hope to have a chance to pick it up!


All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother by Danielle Teller
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018
William Morrow
384 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of CinderellaĆ¢€™s Stepmother
In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother. 

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we? 

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . . 

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises. 

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

I've had my eye on this one for what feels like ages and I cannot wait for the chance to read it. I am a shameless retellings fan and I just love the sound of this one.

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

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Monday, July 11, 2016

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

The Wicked Boy will be published Tuesday, July 12th!

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale. Penguin Press, 2016. Ebook. 352 pages. 

**I received a copy of The Wicked Boy courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin Press in exchange for an honest review.**

Despite its fascinating premise, I'm sorry to say that The Wicked Boy did not live up to my expectations. The story setup is fascinating: an investigation of the child murder case in which Robert Coombes murdered his mother, was found guilty, and was sent to an infamous criminal asylum. Was Robert mentally insane when he killed his mother? Was he influenced by the world around him and the 'penny dreadfuls' he was so fond of reading? What caused this horrific murder?

I was so excited to dig into this intriguing historical case, but I had an extremely difficult time even finishing this book; most of the time while reading it I found my thoughts starting to drift off, which is never a good sign. Her writing is rather matter-of-fact, which wasn't actually the entire problem, but it certainly contributed to it. On the one hand, this rather blunt writing style fit the eeriness and cruelty of the story of the murders, but on the other hand it made what could be a fascinating story somewhat lifeless and forgettable.

There's not really any mystery to the story since the crime is admitted and we know how it plays out. Because of this, the story itself needed a bit more intrigue and suspenseful writing, which it lacked. Similarly, I feel like there was a great deal of padding throughout the story, particularly in the latter half. Now, if you're someone who is interested in historical and/or criminal cases and don't mind reading a more academic-style narrative, then you might really enjoy this and find it quite fascinating, so I would encourage you to pick it.

What I did really enjoy was the information itself: the mental health system, the culture of the period and location, and the profiles of those involved with the story. It is clear that Summerscale performed thorough research and put a great deal of time and effort into this, which I certainly commend her for. If the information had been written in a slightly more appeal or captivating manner, I think this book would have easily been much more enjoyable, but unfortunately it lacked the intrigue I needed.

Overall, I'm giving The Wicked Boy two-and-a-half stars, because despite the intriguing premise and well-researched information premise, the book lacked any drive or passion and thus made this quite a slog to get through.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Academy Alignment by David Davis and Andra St. Ivanyi

The Academy Alignment will be released Wednesday, January 17th!
The Academy Alignment by David Davis and Andra St. Ivanyi. 2016, The Phoenix Organization. 285 pages. Ebook. 

**I received a copy of The Academy Alignment courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Oh, where to start.

I had some issues with this book. When you first start the book, you will be confused. You will wonder in the world you are reading, but hang in there, you'll get to normalcy soon. Eventually the author will bring you into more familiar and somewhat understandable territory and this is when I started to think that this was going to be a fun, unique take on the whole 'mysterious boarding school' genre. In ways, it really was, but in other ways... not so much.

Most reviews that I've perused since I finished seem to be quite positive, stating that the beginning was indeed a bit confusing, but that it eventually worked itself out - which, in ways is true, but not in a very satisfying manner. And some things were still left unexplained. I just felt disoriented. As odd as this may sounds, it is still an entertaining story that can be enjoyed if it's not examined too closely.

First off, I am really not a fan of present narration (this is a peeve that I also mentioned with Legacy of Kings, so at least I'm consistent). I didn't like the number of different of points of view either, as they really just lent to quite a bit more confusion. I felt that Peter, Dr. Linden, and Dr. Browning should have been the max points of view. I understand the use of other characters, but quite frankly it just became a bit too much for a book of its size. If this were a larger, more developed story, then I could understand the multiple POVs more.

In regards to the characters, I felt as though they weren't quite as developed as they could have been, and it was disappointing to see them remain in a somewhat two-dimensional form. When it came to the multiple points of views, it was difficult to distinguish one from another - each rich student seemed to have been molded into the same form. Peter started out as a rather promising character, but I quickly found that his actions just didn't make sense to me. His random photographic memory (what was the point of that?) and great computer skills just seemed to be thrown in to make him look better and conveniently move ahead in the plot. He seemed so indirectly involved in the entire story that I almost could't understand why he was even a part of it.

There's a unique take on the use of/influence of light and dark, which was one area of the book that I actually thought could have been a really interesting concept if it had been developed a bit more (or if we heard about it sooner than the end of the book). Perhaps there will be more in subsequent books, but to be honest i'm not sure if I'll be reading them.

The idea was there, but I just felt like it needed to be expanded so much more. I understand what these people do (leaving it vague so as to have no spoilers), but I didn't fully understand why or how. I kept feeling like I missed a couple pages or chapters. Things also felt a little bit too easy for Peter to decipher or figure out; he struggled, but not that much to find the answers he needed. Things seemed to go from zero to hundred in almost no time, and suddenly the end was there and I couldn't figure out what had really happened.

Overall, I am giving this book two-and-half-stars. Two seems a bit too little, but three seems slightly too generous. I would recommend this for someone who wants a new, unique take on a boarding school story and is interested in taking a chance on a new book.

You might also like:
Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman
A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Update: Life has, once again, reared its ugly head and taken up much of my time in the form of school, internships, and general work and duties. However, I have finished what seems to be quite a few books recently, so now I just have to catch up and work on some reviews. A review for Haruki Murakami's (one of my favorite authors, in case you were wondering) Kafka on the Shore will be coming soon, along with a few other fun ones. The past few have been young adult, but I've been reading quite a varied assortment lately, so there will be a bit more variety in the upcoming reviews. :)

A School For Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen; 2015. 352 pages. Ebook. 

**I received this book as an ARC courtesty of NetGalley**

A School for Unusual Girls will be released next Tuesday, May 23rd!

I was looking forward to this book so much. I even had it listed on my Anticipated Spring 2015 Releases.  Sadly, it did not live up to my expectations.

I don't normally post full summaries, but it was intriguing and promising, so I feel it is necessary to share:

"It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje Hous… She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts..."

The beginning was equally promising; I was enthralled during the opening chapters, and also so excited that I had found yet another great book. Unfortunately, about halfway through I realized it was not going to continue in such a positive fashion.

One of the biggest issues I had with this novel was the pacing. Way too many things happened way too soon with little explanation or reason (I'll get into the lack of explanation after this). As in most books, there is, of course, romance. But this romance happens so fast that I am left holding the book wondering how in the world these two people could so quickly be passionately obsessed with one another. It's one of those "happens at first sight" things, and it is not executed very well. Besides the romance, though, the plot itself just move much too quickly. I felt like I had barely been introduced to characters or plot ideas before something new was thrust upon me.

Now, regarding the lack of explanation. There was too much mystery leftover. I can't even tell you exactly what it is that the girls do or how they are able to do the things they do because it's never explained.  i'm still confused. There are constant hints and foreshadowing about all the mysteries surrounding the Stranje house and the girls that live there, but they are left completely unanswered, which is extremely frustrated. You know how in some books the author leaves certain things unanswered and it really adds this mysterious and amazing element to the story that just makes it 100x better? Yeah, this is not one of those.

On a more positive note, Baldwin does have quite a lovely writing style. There is a nice rhythm to her writing that allows you to keeping turning the pages even though it's not the greatest story. ALong with this, the plot itself is quite imaginative. If executed differently, I feel that this book could have been much, much more enjoyable. The overall idea of having a house for "unfit society girls," who always appear to have some sort of secret, and a major quest for aiding a war is an extremely intriguing prospect. While I am not sure if I will continue the series or not, I do hope that Baldwin can clean up the issues found in this first book for the rest of her releases. 

A School for Unusual Girls will be receiving three stars. It was enjoyable, I'll give it that, but it just didn't hold up. The plot was loose, the storytelling a bit haphazard and rushed at times. Despite that, as mentioned above, it was still an entertaining read, and thus receives three stars. 

Also, as mentioned above, this book will be released next Tuesday, May 19th. If you're interested, don't forget to mark your calendars!